Cray Wanderers – 2019-20 season – That was the season that wasn’t – A Pictorial Review

Isthmian Premier – Game 21 – Thursday 26th December, 2019

Cray Wanderers                         0

Leatherhead                               1

Driver 49

Cray Wanderers final match of a great 2019 ended in a Boxing Day defeat as a rather depleted Wands team were beaten by an in-form Leatherhead side at Hayes Lane. This would be Cray Wanderers last defeat of the season.  The game had the look of a one-goal game but it was certainly a lively encounter with Cray perhaps a bit unfortunate not to grab a point at the end.

Defensively Cray were without Barney Williams, Tom Carlse and Mitchell Nelson and Leatherhead who had lost once in nine matches started well and Izzuna Ikebausi fired a shot just wide. Then Lewis Carey made two fine saves to deny Charlie Hester-Cook and Ibrahim Olutade.

Cray got more into the game and Karl Dent’s ball into the area was helped on by Joe Taylor who set up Bradley Pritchard who drove a shot over the bar from 9 yards.  Then Taylor’s cross just couldn’t get a touch from the onrushing Charlie Allen.  This was followed by Joel Rollinson firing over the bar.

Before the break Travis Gregory was denied a goal for the Tanners by a fine double block from Jay Leader and Geofrey Okonkwo.

The goal that looked likely to be decisive came four minutes after half time when down the left, Gregory’s inswinging ball to the far post was turned in from close range by full back Callum Driver.

Cray fought back well and Rollinson saw his shot from Pritchard’s cross turned behind by keeper Zaki Oualah.  This was followed by Ben Mundele’s shot being blocked by Will Salmon.  At the other end Driver’s half volley just went over the top while Olutade’s effort was blocked by Carey.

The Wands came close to levelling when Charlie Allen’s cross found Rollinson whose shot from 12 yards came back off the left post.

 Then in the closing stages, Tom Murphy was played through but his shot was saved by the legs of Oualah and following up quickly Taylor turned the rebound wide.

Cray though had played well but Leatherhead looked a good side on the afternoon. Cray went down to 7th in the table and were three points clear of Leatherhead. The sides were due to meet again on Easter Monday but due to Covid-19 the match never took place.

Cray Wanderers:  Lewis Carey, Ben Mundele, Lee Lewis, Jay Leader, Geofrey Okonkwo, Charlie Allen, Bradley Pritchard (Capt.), Karl Dent, Jerome Federico (Tom Murphy, 55), Joel Rollinson, Joe Taylor: Subs: Tom Phipp, Chris Al Hassan, Emmanuel Oduguwa, Grant Hall

Att:  188


“We lost Carlsey after he broke his toe in the Worthing game so will be out for 4-6 weeks and lost Barney to a cracked rib so another 3-4 weeks for him too.  Mitchell was unwell and not really in any position to play. We like to play out from the back and have plenty of the ball so the build up to a match is very important to us.  Putting centre-halves at right back or midfielders at left back is just carnage and it is affecting us. I’ve always said with us as we do so much work we are very much intertwined with each other and we all play as one and know what we are going to do and how to do it and we are a very good side.  At the moment though if you take one or two of those cogs out it becomes awkward and I thought we struggled against Leatherhead to start with.  To be fair to them they gambled and went man for man and left Joe Taylor one for one with their centre-half who did very well and got the better of JT on this occasion.  It’s important that we learn from that and have got a couple of ideas if someone does that again and JT can’t physically handle it we will try to come up with a couple of things and that is the beauty of playing at this level. It can throw up different threats and ideas and it is up to us to go away and do things differently next time.

In terms of the game, we should have got something out of it.  Bradley has missed a sitter in the first half, Joel has hit a post from five yards and it has come out.  Then in the last minute of the game, Tom Murphy has been put through on goal, shot across the keeper who has parried it out and JT in the middle of the goal has put the ball wide.  That is the way it is going for us at the moment and we can’t feel sorry for ourselves.  I said to Vinesey after Joel hit the post with fifteen minutes to go that if we got one we would go on and beat them. We had changed things tactically where we moved Charlie Allen to left back for Lee Lewis and this seemed to galvanise us and once we pinned them in they couldn’t get out  and felt it was a matter of time if we scored that we would score two or three but can’t legislate for missed chances.

It’s the way things are going for us at the moment and whenever someone goes down injured it always looks like something serious and the footballing gods aren’t looking down on us at the moment. We’ve just got to get through this period. We don’t really want to go out and buy people as we will have the other boys coming back. We are happy with the squad we have but we’ve tried to get people in on loan, it is just trying to find the right ones and working on it.  We’ve got irons in the fire and waiting to hear back from a pro club but some of these young pros live in cloud cuckoo land and don’t want to drop down levels and play first team football. They would rather play on a Wednesday afternoon for the U23s with no tackling and in front of 20 people.  That is the frustrating thing at the moment.  We are also working on a wide player and hope to know more after the Margate game.  We’ve just got to get through these next 2-3 weeks and limit the damage what has been done. We have basically 16 players with no U23s this year and have first year U18s level players to call on.  If we can remain in touching distance, get people back and bring one or two in I think we will come on like a train.  The boys are putting everything in and the Worthing and Leatherhead games were very similar, the last 25 minutes was all us and we are pushing and pushing to try and get an equaliser and in both games should have done.  We have hit the post in both games and we will get our breaks in the end.  When you are not winning the confidence can be affected and up to me, Vinesy and Nath to keep rallying round the players.  I’ve got faith in the boys they will turn things around”.